“Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”

– John F. Kennedy

Breathing–we perform this essential action over 17,000 times a day with hardly a thought. We would perish without air in just minutes. The quality of the air we breathe can dictate the quality of our life.

The Threats

Despite its reputation for “clean mountain air”, the central and southern Appalachian region suffers from some of the unhealthiest air in the nation, mostly from coal-fired power electricity generation. The following are just some of the impacts:

Smog, soot, and ozone pollution impairs visibility in our national parks like the Great Smoky Mountains and the Shenandoah.

Built in 1957, American Electric Power's Clinch River Plant in Carbo, Virginia is responsible for an estimated 42 premature deaths per year.

Built in 1957, American Electric Power's Clinch River Plant in Carbo, Va is responsible for an estimated 42 premature deaths per year.

Nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide causes acid rain, killing thousands of trees in Appalachia.

Carbon emissions causes global warming which contributes to 150,000 deaths and 5 million illnesses a year, and these numbers are expected to continue to rise.

Pollution from coal-fired power plants is responsible for 24,000 deaths a year in the United States. The US National Academy of Sciences estimates that coal and oil are equally responsible for $120 billion in health costs every year.

What We Are Doing About It

Appalachian Voices believes working in coalition with health organizations, faith communities and government officials and other concerned officials is the most effective way to protect air quality in the region.

Four employees of Southern Energy Management installed the framework for a photovoltaic system on the ASU campus. Photo by Marie Freeman, courtesy of ASU

Four employees of Southern Energy Management installed the framework for a photovoltaic system on the ASU campus. Photo by Marie Freeman, courtesy of ASU

The best way to achieve better air quality is to help our region move towards a cleaner energy future. We actively promote renewable energy and energy efficiency as alternatives to coal burning through research, education and advocating for state and national policies that will help achieve this goal.

We are also encourage investment into clean energy away from new and aging coal-fired power plants with scientifically sound information about the air pollution associated with coal-burning.

Program Work